Stoke & Staffordshire

Firms fined after Brierley Hill legionella inquiry

Two West Midlands firms have been fined £120,000 after staff and the public were put at risk of exposure to legionella bacteria.

The Health and Safety Executive (HSE) started an inquiry after a worker at Eaton Ltd in Brierley Hill died from Legionnaire's disease in 2006.

No link between the death and action by the firm was proved but it had breached health and safety laws, the HSE said.

Water treatment services provider, Aegis, was also at fault, they added.

Aegis, based at Amington Industrial Estates in Tamworth, Staffordshire, was contracted by vehicle parts manufacturer Eaton Ltd to provide treatment services.

'Persistent failures'

Eaton Ltd, based in Fareham, Hampshire, admitted two health and safety breaches and was fined £80,000 and ordered to pay £45,000 in costs.

Aegis Ltd was found guilty at a hearing in May and was fined £40,000 on Tuesday for one health and safety breach and ordered to pay £80,000 in costs.

Both companies were fined at a hearing at Wolverhampton Crown Court on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the HSE said both companies had failed to take reasonable steps "to control the risk of the spread of legionella bacteria, principally by failures to assess the risk and to clean and maintain properly the water cooling system".

HSE spokesman Paul Billinger said: "It is vital that companies who use water cooling treatment as part of their manufacturing processes have plans in place to make sure the level of legionella bacteria in their systems does not become unsafe.

"Legionnaire's disease is a potentially fatal form of pneumonia, which can affect anyone coming into contact with it.

"These were persistent and systemic failures, which put people's health at risk."

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